By Dr Azadeh
Corona viruses are types of viruses that typically affect the respiratory tracts of birds and mammals, including humans. Doctors associate them with the common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and they can also affect the gut.
These viruses are typically responsible for common colds more than serious diseases. However, corona-viruses are also behind some more severe outbreaks.
Over the last 70 years, scientists have found that coronaviruses can infect mice, rats, dogs, cats, turkeys, horses, pigs, and cattle. Sometimes, these animals can transmit coronaviruses to humans.
Most recently, authorities identified a new coronavirus outbreak in China that has now reached other countries. It has the name coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.
In this article, we explain the different types of human coronaviruses, their symptoms, and how people transmit them. We also focus on three particularly dangerous diseases that have spread due to coronaviruses: COVID-19, SARS, and MERS.
What is a coronavirus
Researchers first isolated a coronavirus in 1937. They found a coronavirus responsible for an infectious bronchitis virus in birds that had the ability to devastate poultry stocks.
Scientists first found evidence of human coronaviruses (HCoV) in the 1960s in the noses of people with the common cold. Two human coronaviruses are responsible for a large proportion of common colds: OC43 and 229E.
The name “coronavirus” comes from the crown-like projections on their surfaces. “Corona” in Latin means “halo” or “crown.”
Among humans, coronavirus infections most often occur during the winter months and early spring. People regularly become ill with a cold due to a coronavirus and may catch the same one about 4 months later.
This is because coronavirus antibodies do not last for a long time. Also, the antibodies for one strain of coronavirus may be ineffective against another one.
Coldor flu-like symptoms usually set in from 2–4 days after a coronavirus infection and are typically mild. However, symptoms vary from person-to-person, and some forms of the virus can be fatal.
v runny nose
v fever in rare cases
v sore throat
v exacerbated asthma
Scientists cannot easily cultivate human coronaviruses in the laboratory unlike the rhinovirus, which is another cause of the common cold. This makes it difficult to gauge the impact of the coronavirus on national economies and public health.
There is no cure, so treatments include self-care and over-the-counter (OTC) medication. People can take several steps, including:
v resting and avoiding overexertion
v drinking enough water
v avoiding smoking and smoky areas
v taking acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen for pain and fever
v using a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer
A doctor can diagnose the virus responsible by taking a sample of respiratory fluids, such as mucus from the nose, or blood.
Limited research is available on how HCoV spreads from one person to the next.
However, researchers believe that the viruses transmit via fluids in the respiratory system, such as mucus.
Coronaviruses can spread in the following ways:
v Coughing and sneezing without covering the mouth can disperse droplets into the air.
v Touching or shaking hands with a person who has the virus can pass the virus between individuals.
v Making contact with a surface or object that has the virus and then touching the nose, eyes, or mouth.
v Some animal coronaviruses, such as feline coronavirus (FCoV), may spread through contact with feces. However, it is unclear whether this also applies to human coronaviruses.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggest that several groups of people have the highest risk of developing complications due to COVID-19. These groups include:
v young children
v people aged 65 years or older
v women who are pregnant
How to protect yourself
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Please consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.
· There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
· The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
· The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
· Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
· Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
· These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Steps to protect yourself
Clean your hands often
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
· If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick
· Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Take steps to protect others
Stay home if you’re sick
· Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Cover coughs and sneezes
· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
· Throw used tissues in the trash.
· Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitize that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a face-mask if you are sick
· If you are sick: You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a face mask if they enter your room.
Learn what to do if you are sick.
· If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a face-mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a face-mask). Face-masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
Clean and disinfect
· Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
· If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.
· Diluting your household bleach.
· To make a bleach solution, mix:
· 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
· 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
· Alcohol solutions.
Ensure solution has at least 70% alcohol.
· Other common EPA-registered household disinfectants.
Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens puff icon[7 pages]external icon claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
· Coronaviruses will infect most people at some time during their lifetime.
Coronaviruses can mutate effectively, which makes them so contagious.
To prevent transmission, people should stay at home and rest while symptoms are active. They should also avoid close contact with other people.
Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief while coughing or sneezing can also help prevent transmission. It is important to dispose of any tissues after use and maintain hygiene around the home.
More than 74,000 people have contracted the virus in China. Health authorities have identified many other people with COVID-19 around the world, including many in the United States. On January 31, 2020, the virus passed from one person to another in the U.S.